Books: Steal Like an Artist

I read a recommendation on an OCA facebook group to read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative. I’m really glad that I did as it is a quick read that is inspiring in its straightforward approach.

A few comments that resonated are as follows:

‘Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by’ (p14) which seems like a good way of thinking about keeping sketchbooks. There was a quote from Jim Jarmusch:

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or rules your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. “

I love the idea of collecting all these influences in a more organised way and should make more time to put them in a sketchbook. Kleon discusses “stealing from your heroes” but clarifies this by adding ” [d]on’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style…you want to see like your heroes.” (p36) I recently watched McQueen and although I have not previously been too interested in his collections, the film delved into the thought processes behind the the designs and I found this fascinating. Watching the McQueen film also gave me a clearer appreciation of how documenting your thought process well adds to the overall project.

The suggestion to “step away from the screen” certainly resonated especially as Kleon shows a photograph of his work space. I found this interesting as I am currently setting up a more permanent work space. I love the suggestion to have separate digital and analogue areas as it would make life simpler to be able to move from playing with materials to writing up posts etc without having to clear the desk with each change.

Kleon quotes the playwright Steven Tomlinson who suggests ‘that if you love different things, you just keep spending time with them. “Let them talk to each other. Something will begin to happen.”‘ (p71) I found this really reassuring as it is my plan to split my Creative Arts degree between Textiles and Creative Writing which is not necessarily the most obvious pairing.

If you are feeling a bit down or stumped during your artistic process it is definitely worth flicking through this book!

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